San Diego’s downtown ballpark will trade its field for a court later this year as it hosts the first college basketball game in the venue’s history, plus a week-long festival fronted by a local NBA legend.
The San Diego Padres and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton, a proud La Mesa native, announced plans Tuesday to host the “Bill Walton Basketball Festival” at Petco Park – an event featuring youth clinics led by Walton, charity games, community league games and high school basketball games.
The festival will begin Nov. 30, culminating on Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. with the main event: a game between the San Diego State University (SDSU) Aztecs and the University of San Diego (USD) Toreros – the first college basketball game in Petco Park history, announced earlier this year.
Tickets to the big game went on sale for the first time Wednesday. They can be purchased online.
Now, if you’re having a hard time visualizing a basketball game at the ballpark, here’s the game plan on the set-up: Reps say the local college teams will compete on a special outdoor basketball court that will be situated length-wise between third base and home plate. Bleacher seating will be laid out on the field erected around the open sides of the court.
The seats will accommodate nearly 3,300 spectators, supplementing the existing options in the Petco Park seating areas. Capacity for the winter basketball event is set at nearly 20,000.
The Bill Walton Basketball Festival will utilize the outdoor basketball court built on the ballpark’s infield to the max that week.
At a media briefing Tuesday, Walton told reporters the project makes perfect sense.
“This week-long festival of life is basically the second biggest no-brainer in the history of the world. We have all these things coming together and the chance to do something for our community,” he said.
For him personally, the fest combines everything Walton loves all in one place.
“I love San Diego. I love Petco Park. I love the Padres. And, I love basketball,” he said, grinning ear-to-ear.
Padres president and CEO Mike Dee says using the basketball court in more ways than one was always part of the master plan.
“Even before plans for the college basketball game were finalized, we envisioned the court setup being utilized for more than just one day. This is going to be a week full of unique opportunities for groups throughout our community,” Dee explained.
“I'm excited and proud that we will be celebrating so much more than basketball. We are also most fortunate to have the SDSU vs. USD game to spectacularly highlight and anchor all of the things that we live for, believe in and celebrate daily in our beloved San Diego and Petco Park,” Walton added.
The full schedule of events for the Bill Walton Basketball Festival will be announced at a later time. For now, additional information, including a seating map for the game, can be seen here.